Thursday, August 23, 2007

Another day at work

Sorry for the lag in posts - even though my boss at the quilt shop talked to us about the possibility that we would be working less hours, I find I have been working more hours! This week will be a 20 hour week for me - the norm is 8 - 10 hours. I keep saying it means a better paycheck, but I'm having a bit of a hard time pumping myself up to be at the shop for 8 hours today. Plus that it's the next to last week of summer and I feel like I am neglecting the 13 year old. Well, I suppose we will all get through this, and there really aren't that many 8 hour days left to work in the year. I really do love my job, I just don't like doing anything for more than a few hours (I have a very short attention span!)

I finished all of my bags - they came out really great! I have four of the panels left, so I thought I would make them into nice pillows and take them to Rita and see if she will give me a couple more sample books. Don't you think that would be nice? Then I could make even more bags! What am I thinking? I am also a wee bit compulsive! Sometimes when I get going on something I definitely don't know when to quilt.

This week besides work I am on a mending kick. No, not my own mending, why would I do that? No one pays me to do that - I only do mending when I get something for it. Seriously. I have a perfectly good shirt hanging in my studio. I popped the hem on it when I tried it on after buying it. I just need to sew around the hem so it doesn't fall down when I wash it. It's been there for at least 6 months. It's a long sleeve shirt, though, so I might do it when the leaves start falling so I'll have something new to wear. That's a pretty good incentive. You know how it is when the season changes and you have nothing left to wear!

Spelling laugh of the day - this is a good one! When my friend brought me her mending to do, she also brought a stack of clothes that me or the 13 yo might like. There is a really cut little dress with a criss-cross front. (It even makes me look really thin! But it needs taken up a bit in the shoulders because it shows more of me than anyone other than the husband gets to see.) I looked at the tag - my goodness, she only paid $1.50 for this dress! What an awesome buy! (I never find deals like that, good thing my friends do!) I read the tag a little more - it is labeled as a surplus dress! What they really meant is a surplice dress. Don't these people ever watch What Not To Wear? I don't know if it's as funny to anyone else as it is to me, but I got a really good giggle from that one! There's a big difference - but then again maybe it really is a surplus dress and that is why it only cost $1.50.

I suppose instead of entertaining myself with all of these witty thought I ought to go get ready for work - have a blessed day!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me

I had a lovely birthday yesterday. Hubby and I spent the day driving up the Oregon Coast, having a delicious lunch at Bliss' Hot Rod Grill, and ending up at the Aquarium in Newport. It was a beautiful August day - blue sky, sunshine, and a nice gentle breeze keeping the temperature just right. We had a wonderful time chatting and remembering our last trip there - we couldn't believe that it's been 15 years! How the time goes by when you are busy raising your children. The only down spot was that I totally forgot to bring my camera! I am so bad at that, I just guess I need to start keeping it in my purse when I'm not using it.

I didn't do any sewing yesterday, but on Wednesday I finished sewing the bodies of the rest of the bags and finished half of the handles. So today's agenda is to finish the bags and the luggage tags to go with them. I also got a call yesterday to hem a dress, so that will be on the list also. Isn't it funny how when I'm busy, I just get busier. That's a good thing, though!

I ordered my saddle shoes and cat eye glasses to complete my look for the ladies retreat last night! I can't wait. Wish I had an excuse to dress up more often, I really love costumes! I've been buying a pattern every time they are on sale at Jo-Ann's lately. I figure I might as well start doing some of the things that really make me smile instead of what is expected all the time. When I'm an old lady I won't be wearing purple, I'll be wearing my dress up box!

Pamela - off to finish the bags so she can have some fun!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Doing The Work

Last week I was pretty excited about the opportunity that presented itself - this week I am in the middle of the reality of making all those bags! Believe me, it's not free money, I will have earned that paycheck when I am finished, and while I do love sewing and creating, I also get tired and would rather play than work - just like any other human being. Not to mention I have a stack of quilts that I'd really rather work on!

I have all the outside panels cut and sewn for the bags, so right now I am working on constructing the bag bodies with lining. I am binding the seams of the bag because it's a nicer finish than just zig-zag stitching them. I have 7 of these done, so I have to do 9 more, then I'll make all the handles and attach them to the top of the bag. At that point they will be ready for the lining strip that goes on the top, a little top stitching and the bags will be done. I am also making matching tags, so those will need to be done also. I have to go get some grosgrain ribbon for those. I have made each tag different, to match it's bag as much as possible. These will make really nice gifts, I think

I also have a home project today. I bought my husband two 6 foot bookshelves from Staples yesterday and have to put those together today so he can get going on moving his music stuff to the upstairs room. He is really having a time with it because he likes to know how everything is going to fit and look before he gets it done. I keep telling him to think of it as a work in progress and he can always move things around later if he doesn't like it the first time around! So far I haven't had to do too much of the moving stuff (hurray!), but when he gets ready to move the stereo equipment I will probably be called into service. It's fun to see him excited about having his own space. I remember how thrilled I was two years ago when I got to have my own sewing space. I rearrange my room quite often, still haven't found the perfect arrangement, but it doesn't bother me so much. I got an area rug for my floor and it is fantastic - lot's nicer to stand on that the old linoleum that is in there, and really lightens up the room a lot.

Pamela - getting busy on those bags!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Day of Rest

I am officially taking today off as a day of rest. I worked all day Friday and Saturday at the shop as Sharan is off at a Quilt Show. I have 16 tote bags to make next week, and two sets of quilt blocks to sash and border, as well as a small stack of jeans to hem. Plus I have to work a half day tomorrow and go to the dermatologist to get a mole checked out. So I figure I really need a day to not be busy.

I was excited to hear that two of the Hawaiian Star kits we made have sold already! Looks like we will have to get some more of the background fabric so we can make up some more kits. Either that or I will be getting to take my top home sooner that I thought. That would be nice! I do have all my pictures up in my webshots album so you can see how the star all came together. I need to get better at documenting as I go - I get excited about sewing, and forget everything else.

I've been cleaning up my studio a bit today, and inventoried my stuff from my Etsy shop - I had given out a few of my little wallets and not taken them down from the site, so now it's all cleaned up and back in order again. It's nice to just putter around and not be pushed to accomplish anything. I did a little reading and made a to-do list for tomorrow. And spent way too much time fooling around on-line!

I really need to re-organize my studio, I'm still not totally happy with the layout, but really cannot think of anyway to make it better. I just need another room, that's all there is to it! Actually I probably just need to get rid of all the stuff I'm really not using, but we all know how that goes. After I get this next set of projects done I think I want to work on getting some tops quilted. I have two queen sized quilts that are basted and just need to be quilted. One of them is for the quilt show in september, so that will have to be a priority. I need to figure out what in the world I want to quilt on it. It is a block swap, and I've sewn the blocks into a large star design so there are some fairly large areas to quilt in, plus the blocks and borders to do also. I really want to do something custom, and not just an overall, but I can't think of what will work. Maybe I should get it out and stare at it for a while to get inspired - sometimes that works.

Pamela - who is happy to have a quiet day!

Friday, August 10, 2007

You Never Know

One of the great things about life is that when you wake up in the morning you just never know what that day will bring - when you think about that it's pretty exciting! What yesterday brought for me is an opportunity to make 20 patchwork tote bags - and as luck would have it I only have to do one day at the quit shop next week, so it was perfect timing. I just finished 2 big sewing projects so I'm on a roll anyway. I got about half of the piecing done last night and if I have time will do some more tonight, then on to actual bag construction. I am really pleased to get to use up the rest of the fabric I had from the sample books, though I was thinking of asking if she has anymore now! The tote bags come out so cute - I know my friends have really enjoyed the ones I have made for them.

The nice thing is I will be able to get my rainy day fund back up a bit, I had depleted it for my vacation. Who knows, if I can get ahead enough maybe I can take another trip next summer! I am really happy, and can't wait to see what today brings - it may not be as exciting as yesterday, but I know God has a blessing in store for me in some small way - He always does!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Why Machine Quilting Is So Hard

I had a revelation yesterday when I was working on that quilt about why it is so difficult to machine quilt. First of all you have the mechanical issues - you have to have a machine that has the right capabilities and is fit for that type of sewing. You have thread to consider, and the accompanying issues - what in the world am I going to quilt on this. After that you have to either mark your design on your quilt or be able to free-motion with no markings (my preferred method). At this point you get into the actual quilting.

As an example I was quilting spirals. Up around and over, up around and over is what my brain tells my fingers and arms. Shoulders down! That comes up every so often when I feel my neck getting tight, about the time I have my shoulders up around my ears. Breath! Ok, I need to relax more, Up, around, and over! Watch out, you're getting close to that pin, better stop and take it out! Up, around, and over! Sit up straight! Wonder if the bobbin is about to run out? Shoulders Down! Up, around, and over. Up, around, and over. Another Pin! Breath! Not so fast, you're stitches are getting too small, oops, slow down your hands, stitches are too big. Shoulders Down! Up, around and over - uh - oh, time to change the bobbin. Do you see what I mean - there is too much to think about all at the same time!

That's why I like to spend some serious time quilting and do several quilts all together, by the time I get to the end is when I've really got it all down and can just quilt! Anyway, I did get the quit finished yesterday and it came out quite well, except for a couple of tucks on the back. I'll check and see if my client wants them taken out or not. They are not that noticable, but it is an imperfection. I also bound the quit, using my machine to finish it on the top. This is the way I have been doing all of my machine quilted quilts. I figure that they have machine quilting on the top, why not finish the binding by machine also? The judge at the fair always gives me good comments on my binding technique, but I'm not sure it would be as accepted at a larger show. I must say, I like the way it looks, and it is so fast to finish - I can bind a queen sized quilt in a little over an hour and a half this way. Try doing that by hand!

The next quilt on the list for quilting is one I made from a block swap. I'm looking at thread today, and trying to get some idea of how I want to quilt it. Hopefully will have some time to start it this afternoon after work. I'm also working on finishing up a sample for a new pattern. This one is a basket pattern, and I hope to pick out some fabrics for a fall version of the quilt today. I fell behind in my pattern a month plan and need to get going again!

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Pretty Toile Slipcover

Delivered the slipcover today, any my client loved it. It really is pretty, and I bought the remaining 2 yards of toile from her, so I'll have to make something for my Etsy shop from it! I had forgotten how tedious a slipcover for a wing chair is to make. Funny thing is that I had 2 other people call me about slipcovers this spring, but nothing ever came from either one of them. Wonder if they're waiting for fall to come?


I started quilting on the commissioned quilt I've been working on. I'm doing spirals all over it. I'll bet I'm going to have to buy another spool of thread because I'll run out with one side border left to go - isn't that how it always works out! I quilted for about 2 hours this weekend, and my shoulders and neck are definitely tight. I forgot that I had lowered my chair so I could see to piece all the points more accurately and ended up quilting that way for about an hour. What a difference that few inches make for me. Hopefully I'll be able to finish up the quilt tomorrow if I take enough breaks and stretch.

This is part of the quilt stretched out on the table while I was basting itThe blocks are all 9 inches and both blocks required piecing in a square in a square fashion. If I was designing the quit I would have made it as blocks with pieced sashing. Probably a little trickier to make sure all the sashings go on correctly, but the blocks would have been a piece of cake to piece!

This is the quilting design. I've got a really pretty King Tut thread to use for the quilting. It echoses the colors in the batik with the leaf design. I thought a curvy quilting design would be nice because there are so many straight lines in the piecing.

I'm going to have to trim about an inch off of both sides because my border wasn't as wide as my quilt top, I think I made an error in my calculations because I was making the quilt larger than the pattern called for. I probably added too much to the borders. The binding will be the darkest blue in the corners of the star block. It's a queen sized quilt, should be about 88 x 102.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Unveiling - Hawaiian Star, Finished at Last

My Hawaiian Star quilt is finished - and won a Blue Ribbon in the Coos County Fair. It was very enjoyable to make and is one of the most beautiful quilts I have made. I really enjoyed, and agonized, over the process of machine quilting it. I knew exactly how I wanted to do the border, but the rest I made up as I went. I was thrilled to see that the judge at the fair remarked that the quilting was well thought out, and well executed. I have entered it into the Coos Sand and Sea Show, and am really hoping it does well there as well. I must admit, I am competitive and I really enjoy those blue ribbons (not to mention the awesome goodie bags you get for a blue ribbon at the show!).

Today I put the borders on a commission quilt. Then I relaxed and rested. That's something I haven't had too often lately, I have been pushing myself a little too hard and I know I can't keep up this pace for too long. It's hard to just do nothing, there is always so much that needs to be done and so much pressure to push on to the next thing that I hardly ever take time just to relax and breath. But it is necessary, not only for mental health, but for my physical well being. It's hard to accept the fact that I can't push myself until I drop and then do it again tomorrow, but I really can't live like that anymore. Plus that, my husband likes to see me a little more, instead of getting lost in my projects.

The projects I've been working on are some home improvements. I have painted my upstairs bathroom, which was a 6 hour project. I did my living room ceiling, which took 8 hours. It's a 12 foot ceiling, and I discovered my comfort zone on the ladder is the third step. I really don't like getting up on the fourth step at all! And I spent an entire day scraping and scrubbing wallpaper off one wall and painting it. Two walls and the stairwell left to do, but I plan on doing one wall a week and not pushing myself to get it all done in a hurry. This weekend I spent doing all the sewing projects I put off for the rest of the week, including the task of making a slipcover for a wing chair. At least it's done now and it will be delivered tomorrow and out of my hair!

Of course I have so many other things I want to work on, but I plan on taking time to rest and think every day, who knows I may take up my morning pages again! Maybe I'll even take time to update my blog more often - heaven knows it wouldn't hurt to do that once in a while.